I’ve just uploaded a new podcast with the guys from Positive Money.
Talking to them about money creation really got me thinking about the predicament we find ourselves in these days. For a society such as ours, money is the enabler of activity, the lubricant, the expedient, the salve, the reward, the goal. It seems utterly mad that so few of us would really know where it comes from, how it comes into being and what kind of pressure that places on our system.
I spoke at a conference a couple of weeks ago and they asked me to hang around for the round table discussion after my presentation. I joined the table which was discussing population growth. The head of the table was pressing for us to come to an agreement that we could present in the closing remarks. His main interest seemed to be in asserting that Britain was filled to capacity with a population of 63 million and that therefore projected gains from immigration which would take us to 70 million over the next decade or so were bad.
A general air of discomfort descended over our table, no doubt helped by the posh Middle England/ NIMBY-ness of our discussion leader. I’m not one for political correctness but it did feel that his statement about immigration was at best disingenuous. Several people in the group raised perfectly valid points about the manner in which we in the UK live and consume and were summarily dismissed.
I decided to take a shot at explaining that from my perspective, complaining about immigration and population pressure was not going to be constructive unless we looked at the economic and social system that makes those things inevitable. I began to talk about the manner in which money is created, which automatically demands growth to service debt, which demands more work and more workers at all times. I wanted to get across what I consider to be the key point of the issue, which is that we have built a pyramid scheme instead of a sustainable economy. A pyramid scheme requires an ever-increasing supply of new participants in order to function. If you have an economic system that categorically cannot function without a constant influx of new people, you will never reconcile the pressures caused by more people without fixing the system that demands their presence. In a modern, complex world, that system is driven at the root by the way we create and distribute money.
The head of our discussion interrupted me to say that I was going off topic into conspiracy theories, that we were talking about people, not economics. When I attempted to stress the connection between the two, he told me that I was “getting on [an] economics hobby horse again” and changed the subject. This man was a well-to-do, well-respected retired journalist of over thirty years experience. He was at a conference intimately targeted at environmental issues and without reservation I am sure that his heart was in the right place. However, if (a) people feel that money is irrelevant to environmental damage and population growth or that those who see the connection are peddling conspiracy theories, and (b) those people are the good guys, then (c): Houston, we have a problem.
I hope you enjoy the podcast. Please check out what Ben Curtis and Ben Dyson are doing with the Positive Money project – it’s one of the most constructive things happening in Britain right now and they make killer videos too.